By Lisa Capobianco
Southington resident Maureen Jahne is one of many individuals chosen to be honored during the upcoming Hall of Fame Dinner, presented by Special Olympics Connecticut (SOCT).
The Hall of Fame recognizes extraordinary athletes, volunteers and supporters who exemplify leadership, spirit and selflessness, as well as inspire joy through sport and promote respect and inclusion for people with all abilities, according to a press release from Special Olympics Connecticut. Jahne is the recipient of the Unsung Hero Award, which she will receive during event scheduled for March 26 at the Aqua Turf Club.
Playing an active role in the non-profit organization since 1994, Jahne has served as a local coordinator for the Southington Sports Club Special Olympics Local Program.
“I just wanted to give back—once you’re in, you’re in,” said Jahne, who has devoted her time organizing and coordinating track and field as well as bowling practices for her team.
Serving thousands of athletes and partners statewide through local, regional and state programs, SOCT has offered year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities since 1969, according to the non-profit organization’s website. SOCT hosts more than 70 tournaments and competitions in 27 different sports every year, and as an organization, SOCT consists of three regional programs. Regional participation is comprised of local programs, which offer several different sports and training activities based on the level of athlete interest, said SOCT’s website. Volunteer local coordinators manage these local programs, which serve as the “first point of entry” for athletes and their families. SOCT reports that its winning team includes over 10,000 volunteers, 1,200 coaches, and over 14,000 athletes and their families, as well as a variety of civic and corporate organizations.
Through her work with the Southington Sports Club Special Olympics Program, Jahne said she has established friendships with participants on the team, which has a growing membership every year. Currently the program has 64 athletes.
“They’re all my friends—it’s a lot of fun,” said Jahne, adding that she felt surprised when discovering she was the recipient of the Unsung Hero Award. “You get a full heart when you work with them.”
Known as having a “pleasant and positive attitude,” Jahne’s colleagues have also recognized her for giving 100 percent, “advocating for her athletes as they are her first priority to make sure they are getting the competition opportunities and respect they deserve.”
The staff members of SOCT said Jahne serves as a “shining example of a dedicated leadership volunteer” through her dedication, compassion and hard work.
“Maureen is a shining example of a dedicated leadership volunteer,” said Nora Mason, the vice president of Community Impact of SOCT. “She is committed to providing valuable opportunities and always does it with a huge smile.”